There are some things people can do to reduce their risk of RWI in swimming pools:
Make sure the pool is well maintained and cleaned. Chlorine and pH levels of the water should be checked at least twice a day, more often during periods of heavy pool use. Look at the water and sides of the pool. The water should look clear and stripes or designs on the walls or floor should be clearly visible. Tiles should be clean, but not sticky or slippery (slippery tiles indicate the presence of contamination). S
tay out of the water if you see any signs of cloudiness, evidence of slime or discoloration along the walls or floor. Listen for the sound of the motors in the filtration unit. They are usually very noisy. So if you don’t hear them, make sure the filtration system is working properly.
Take a shower before you get into the pool. This may seem counter-productive – you’re going to get wet in the pool anyway. However, perspiration contains nitrogen and ammonia, which causes more rapid depletion of chlorine. Even personal care products, like sunscreen, shampoo and antiperspirant, can deplete chlorine levels. If you can smell chlorine at a swimming pool, that’s a sign too much of the chemical is being used to get rid of contaminants and the water disinfectant levels may be too low.
Stay out of the water if you have diarrhea. No matter how well you shower before you jump in the pool, there is always the chance some of the bacteria will leak out into the pool water. Wait several days after a diarrhea illness before using a swimming pool to ensure the infection has cleared.
Take children to use the bathroom before they start to swim. Make sure they shower and wash their hands thoroughly after using the toilet. Then, give them potty breaks so they don’t have an “accident” in the pool. Some public pools allow swim diapers. But these diapers may still leak. So check the babies diaper often. Change soiled diapers in the restroom – not at the side of the pool where the walkway or wall can become contaminated with germs from the feces.
When you are in the pool, don’t swallow any of the water. Though there’s a lot of water and any contamination is likely to be spread out, it may only take a few germs to make you sick.
Finally, remember the rules of water safety. Don’t swim alone. Don’t drink alcohol or use drugs before or while you are swimming. Never dive into shallow water (or in water of an unknown depth). Parents should never leave a child unattended at a pool or any body of water. Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death for children 1 to 14 in the U.S. (after motor vehicle accidents). SafeKids USA estimates 280 children under five die each year in swimming pools.